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« have fled for refuge to lay hold upon
the hope set before us.
When personal obligation is not deemed fufficient, a cautioner, or surety, is another expedient which human wisdom hath devised. And is not such an one provided by the great God? Not a creature, though of the highest order, but his own Son, by whom all things were made, even Jesus, the Mediator of the new
covenant, who is expressly styled the Jurety of a better testament.
If, after all, any jealoufy remains, we must next, I suppose, have recourse to legal security, and may demand a written obligation, a deed executed with every essential formality.--Now, what kind of deed hath greatest force and validity? None, I apprehend, is more universally held sacred and inviolable than a teftament. This was Paul's opinion, when he said, Gal. iii. 15: “ Though « it be but a man's testament, yet if it be “ confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth 66 thereto." And are not we furnished with this very species of obligation ?-a testament confirmed and rendered unalterable
by the death of the testator; with this ad, ditional security, against its being abstracted, erased, or defeated, by the infidelity of those to whom the execution of it
be committed; (a security which never did, nor ever can, exist in any other case), namely, that the testator, who died to give it force, revived, and liveth for evermore, to be the executor of his own deed in its utmost extent.
Can any thing further be required?If distrust be very great, one might perhaps wish to have a valuable pledge, something of equal worth put into his hand, till the obligation be fulfilled.
What shall I say? Let unbelief blush, and be ashamed to open its mouth any more, when it looks to the unspeakable gift of God, and hears how Paul reasons upon it, Rom. viii. 32. " that fpared not his own Son, but deliver" ed him up for us all, how shall he not “ with him also freely give us all things ?"
It is really astonishing, that such profufion of evidence should not excite in men a greater curiosity to discover the true reason and design of it. Were a superior transact
ing with us in the way of bargain, though he should profess that he meant to do us a favour, would not the offer of such multiplied superabundant security for the perfor mance of his part of the agreement, discover such an anxiety to get the bargain concluded, as would naturally breed in us a secret suspicion, that however moderate and equitable the terms proposed might appear, yet, upon the whole, the chief advantage would accrue to himself? Now, it is agreed on all hands, that to impute any such interested views to the Great Sovereign of the universe, would be equally absurd and blasphemous : for how differently foever men have conceived of the gospel-constitution, it is universally admitted to be a covenant of grace.
: And yet, my brethren, if eternal life be not a gift absolutely free, but the wages of fervice to be done by us, I cannot help thinking, that, let the terms proposed be ever so moderate, yet such means employed for gaining our consent to them, could hardly fail to tincture our minds with some degree of these evil surmisings I have mentioned. Whereas, upon the plan of the record, as exVOL. II.
pressed in my text, every part of the divine procedure appears perfectly wise, consistent, and gracious. God and man are represented in their proper characters : God, infinitely good, and independently happy; showing mercy to the miserable who derived their existence from him, and have nothing to give but what his own bounty hath beftowed upon them: Man, on the other hand, in his fallen state, a guilty, and, of consequence, a fearful, suspicious creature ; confcious that he deserves punishment, and hard to be perfuaded that there is so much goodness with God, as freely to pardon his offences, and receive him again into favour. These fears beget and cherish that enmity against God, which is the distinguishing characteristic of the carnal mind. We feel the effects of injuries upon our own hearts; and we are apt to judge of God by what we feel in ourselves.
It was to vanquish this distrust, that God hath condescended to deal with us in the manner I have represented ; that by giving us every kind of assurance that jealousy itself can devise, we may be reduced to this
necessity, necessity, either to give God the lie ;-or, being convinced that he is love, to rely upon his faithful word of promise ; believing that he who bestowed life at first, by a free act of the purest bounty, hath goodness enough to restore life after it hath been forfeited, by another act of as free mercy and
grace. This is the plain account which the Scriptures give us of faith in Chrift. “ If we receive the witness of man,” faith our Apostle in the gth verse of this chapter, “ the witness of God is greater :" and, John iii. 33. receiving the divine testimony is said to be a setting to our feal that God is true. Accordingly, in the verse preceding my text, unbelief is represented as deriving its chief malignity from this very circumstance, that it denies the truth of God : For thus it is written, “ He that believeth not « God, maketh him a liar; because he be6 lieveth not the record that God gave of « his Son." And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and this life is in bis Son.
You see, then, upon the whole, ono great end of the holy sacrament of our